For the past four years, the Sandy Hill Eco-Grocery Co-op has consisted of two stores across the street from one another on Wilbrod Street; one for pets and one for people.
But after struggling to keep both stores afloat, the co-op decided to move both locations into the existing pet food store at 304 Wilbrod St.
"Competing with big-box stores is tantamount to insanity," said vice-president Ryan Carnegie. "It's proven to be too expensive on finances and people to keep both stores running."
The co-op is revisiting its business plan to see what is and isn't working, Mr. Carnegie said, with changes to include an increased focus on local, organic foods and the axing of products that could be purchased in a Loblaws.
"What's not going to change is our mandate to make sure we find the best quality food that we can," Mr. Carnegie said. "We're trying to be more than just a corner store."
The co-op offers a variety of healthy, natural and organic foods without artificial ingredients and chemical preservatives.
Renovations to the store include a fresh coat of paint and a touched-up floor to ensure it can support large refrigeration units from across the street, said Mr. Carnegie. While those renovations take place, the pet food has been moved to the people food store at 317 Wilbrod St. until May 1 when the change officially takes place.
The store is a worker cooperative with no separate group of owners or shareholders. Its 10 employees democratically control the shop.
Clients range from students to young families to diplomats to low-income families.
While the smaller space will diminish the need for in-store employees, more focus can be made on outside work such as relationships with local farmers, Mr. Carnegie said.
The pet food co-op opened in 2004 with the sister store opening in 2008.
T.A.N. Coffee, which operates in the front half of the people food co-op will take over the rest of the space after the move, Mr. Carnegie said.
The name of the new amalgamated location has yet to be decided, he said, but it will be a sustainable solution that will allow the co-op to last.
"We are not closing down," he said. "We're going to be here for quite some time."